Johannesburg - These two dedicated off-road riders are the first members of the Herbalife Blu Cru Yamaha racing team, created in 2017 as a stepping stone for the next generation of enduro riders who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Pretoria-born Thabang Katees (left), 26, first got involved in off-road riding as a schoolboy, loading and off-loading bikes for riders at De Wildt - but what got him noticed was when he helped a rider by videoing him in action while riding his bicycle (hands off!) across rough ground.
That brought him to the attention of the Nomadix sponsors, who selected him in July 2011 as one of six candidates for an MSA-driven sport transformation programme for new riders. He moved to Johannesburg and qualified as a pharmacy assistant while riding for the MSA developmental programme.
In 2016, the MSA asked Yamaha to support him as a rider of merit in its factory-supported team and when Blu Cru was formed he was Yamaha’s first choice as its No.1 rider.
“We are training hard,” he said, “for the Northern Regions cross-country championships, the National Enduro championship and the Roof of Africa.”
By contrast, Piwe Zulu (32) from Margate on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast only started riding at the age of 25, but soon showed real talent. He has ridden for KTM Durban and RBS Yamaha, among others, before being invited to join the Blu Cru.
Team manager Adrian Bac said: “Welcoming a brand new sponsor into National enduro racing is not only a big step forward for Yamaha, but also for the sport as a whole.
“Thabang and Piwe show the determination and commitment that it takes to succeed in motorsport; they have the potential to become really great riders.”